This eulogy was read for my great-uncle Alfio (Auch) by his nephew Zorba. Alfio Vielmetti died in 2008 at the age of 96. I think of him when I am out on my walks, and I miss him when I wish I had someone like him to talk to about city council.
My uncle Alfio lived a life centered on family and community, with lessons learned hard in early years, and applied for a very long lifetime. Many of these lessons came from his father, Max, and Max didn’t discuss, he announced the lessons – and in some cased, how they were going to be learned. One of the earliest and strongest was sharing, and with seven siblings, there was plenty of constant reinforcement.
Brothers worked to help one another –to be there when needed- after all, Auch had an older brother named Rock. They all worked as kids, then as students at Ann Arbor- always working. Always remembering the hard times- that when they were kids, their shoes were stored once the weather turned warm- and they stayed there until the fall. Working for the iceman- that was tough work for a kid, but it helped make for a pretty tough kid.
Auch had a real love of working with his hands- building things, fixing things- his own, but also for others. He’d show up with the right tools to get a project going – or finished. He was generous with his time and talents- right down to answering a lot of questions from hyper-inquisitive nephews who wanted to build things too. He built a cottage at Spread Eagle pretty much from the dirt up, and helped Howard and Mitch keep their places going across the lake.
He was always providing for the family- building things, fixing things, making things better.
There was great pain in his earlier years, with the death of his wife Marge during the birth of his son David, but he found a new partner in Lois and with her support rebuilt the Vielmetti family home over 7 years down to the smallest detail –building the ”’components”’ of the smallest details., while building a business and partnering with his brother on various ventures.
Auch was a lifelong supporter of this church, not just going to mass every day and helping out financially, but working with Father Mark on the history of the parish and helping to identify folks in pictures and stories. He had a prodigious memory in regard to the people and history of Norway.
One of Auch’s fathers great commitments in life was to education- and as usual, Max walked the walk, sending every one of his children to the university of Michigan. Auch took it to heart as well, checking in on the next generation- verifying mid-story to see if they indeed knew the meaning of some of his terms and references, as well as founding standing scholarships at the Norway-Vulcan High School.
A couple of years ago I was at the hospital visiting Auch while he was recovering from cancer surgery, and before he unloaded on the doctors and staff about what they did right- the surgery; and what they did wrong, everything else; and how he was going home that day, regardless of what they thought, that he had his nephew and Jack Osborne there to spring him- well before all that, we talked about charity. No- that’s not quite right- I mostly listened. I listened as he told me of the importance of having charity in your life- in a very broad sense –in that we are all in this together, and that you owed something as your share- your contribution to your family, your friends, your town, and your country.
He pitched in on every level- from installing a new pump at our cottage, to establishing scholarships at the high school, to spending years following Patton across Europe during the war. He spoke of the easier kinds of charity- where you could send a check to folks doing good deeds here and there in the community- the world, and the closer in version- the one where you showed up, spent some time and effort to help out. The one where you had to get up, and get out.
In his later years Auch did a lot of walking. I mean a LOT of walking, some of it right below us when the weather was bad, and I am convinced that his amblings had a lot to do with the length of his stay with us. He walked every day to the library to read the WSJ, he walked to the stores and the bowling alley, and also, You see, on a lot of his walks, he went to sundry houses and visited the sick and the infirm- just a stop in to see how they were doing- and to cheer them up he said. Now if he was on tear about the city council, I’m not certain how cheery it was, but you get the idea.
The walking tours made for better health through exercise – as well as better health through helping others.
Auch was a good man who has left a rich legacy by example, and a lot of us are going to miss him.